Things that go plop



What was that?!

Boat owners know that learning the hundreds of distinctive sounds a boat makes is a kind of brain mapping. That creak we hear when the boat heels a little is the mainsail pulling taught against the furling boom. The low hum reminiscent of a distant foghorn is the shower sump pump. Boats are constantly in motion, even at anchor or at a dock, and there are all kinds of rubbing, creaking, chafing sounds, not to mention the clicks and whirrs and hums of various pumps and motors and switches. When we first moved aboard we had a marathon brain mapping as we chased down every sound and filed it away. We were so attuned to all the new sounds that one night a new sound startled me and I jumped up.

“What was that!?” I said, looking around for the source.

“I farted.”

Ok, so I should have know that one.

When we got our new rig we had to start all over again with the brain mapping. Gone are a dozen old sounds, replaced by new ones we’re still learning because so many rig sounds are dependent on wind speed and sea state. It’s like cats when you move a piece of furniture or otherwise change their world. They have to sniff every inch to remap the space. When we built a small deck off the kitchen of our old house it took our cat Jo nearly a full day to sniff each board its entire length before she felt safe navigating across.

Eventually all the normal boat sounds are identified and they get filtered out in the course of a day and the odd or new sound gets investigated.



What was that?! Anything dropping in the water is not a good sound, as any boat owner now missing his favorite screwdriver will admit. I’m not mentioning any names.

We were in the cockpit enjoying a rather boisterous sail in seas that I wish would settle down a bit and the sound persisted.

*splump* *splump* *splump*

*plop* *plop* *plop*

Bananas! Our bunch of bananas was swinging as EV was being tossed by the waves and with each jerk a banana or two or three hit the top of the stainless steel grill, then plopped into the ocean. We’re losing bananas!

The first big bunch of bananas we bought we hung in the forward corner of the cockpit, under the enclosure, protected as much as possible from the sun and wind. The bananas fared well and lasted a long time but we’d underestimated how much momentum a heavy bunch of bananas can acquire in a big sea. When we motored the eight miles from Tahuata to Atuona I was tucked into my usual corner reading when I started getting pelted by bananas being flung from the bunch in the steep chop. This will not do, we agreed, and decided to hang the next bunch aft, over the barbecue grill. In hindsight the first location was better because at least we didn’t lose any bananas and anyway they don’t leave a permanent mark when they hit you on the head.  

 Since it’s difficult to even move around in the current seastate we can’t relocate the bunch — it’s heavy! — and have to accept that there are fewer morning and afternoon banana breaks for now, fewer batches of banana bread in our future, fewer bananas on our cereal or yogurt, fewer smoothies. I salvaged what loose ones I could reach without falling overboard and threw them in the freezer for now.

Where we’re headed, the lowlying atolls of the Tuamotus, they can’t grow fruit and we expected these bananas to tide us over while we’re there.




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One Response to Things that go plop

  1. TomG

    Always fascinating to read these little particulars of boat life. Nice to know what sounds bananas make when under sail! Mine just lay there quietly, perhaps dreaming of a life at sea.

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